Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Proverbs 31:16 commentary: the church in the world

16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

Literally, we have the virtuous woman, the wife, engaged in business outside of the home, expanding her family’s holdings in real estate. Considering the purchase of a field, she then buys it, and with her own hands plants a vineyard. She is, as part of her virtue, industrious, hardworking, and thinking ahead. This is a contrast to the modern woman who runs up thousands of dollars on credit cards, lusts after more “stuff,” and yet does nothing to increase the family’s prosperity.

But, wait, there is something else going on here. She plants the vineyard “with the fruit of her hands.”

Jesus used the word “field” as a type of the world in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:38. which the Bible defines in at least one location in contrast to the physical earth as the people who live on the earth. See Revelation 3:10.

The church is to invest in the world, with compassion for the billions of people destined for Hell and the eventual lake of unquenchable fire for the wicked. Thoughtfully and carefully, with discretion and forethought the church’s business is to not only feed its household with the word of God but to buy that field and minister God’s grace in Jesus Christ to it.
The church’s work is to be performed not with armies, magistrates, laws, regulations, monuments, or material possessions. The church’s work is performed by the fruit of her hands, the manifesting to one and all of the lost in the world of the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Sinners are not saved, hellbound people are not brought back from the abyss, by laws and weapons of war, but by the drawing of men to Christ by the example the Christian church is to set and by the preaching of God’s words. The church feeds hungry stomachs and hungry souls and the church feeds God’s words into starving ears.

A vineyard is featured prominently in that great prophetic book of the Old Testament about Christ and the church called The Song of Solomon. It represents the pleasant results of the work of the church. The vineyard also represents Israel. The church plants a vineyard but as it is in the physical world, the church can only accomplish so much. The rest is up to Christ alone.

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